Medicine to become a medical school campus where third and fourth year medical students receive clinical training in Phoenix. Across the state, 43 community colleges are developing the next generation of worldclass bioscience and health care professionals. More than 27,000 Arizona students are enrolled in postsecondary, health sciences-related CTE programs. At least one unique partnership has evolved in this setting. The Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI) at Gateway Community College provides office space, consulting, mentorship, laboratory and prototyping support to startups in the bioscience, renewable energy and technology fields. Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies has partnered with CEI to make state-of-the-art 3D printing systems available to CEI clients and the community. Beyond Arizona, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute is partnering globally on an unprecedented study that will use a promising experimental drug to halt Alzheimer’s before it starts. One of the partnering firms is Genentech, a South San Francisco-based biotech company that will test its anti-amyloid drug on patients. The institute also will collaborate with pharmaceutical Swiss company Novartis to test two experimental drugs that aim to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in older, high-risk adults. And TGen is working with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco to tackle glioblastoma brain cancers by finding ways to target a tumor’s genetic changes with drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier. The California school is running a trial with 15 patients and their work is guided by TGen’s research.
ARIZONA WINS So how does Arizona benefit? One way is through better access to precision medicine capabilities through research because local research benefits local people, first, Burleson says. “TGen was founded in 2002 on the belief that understanding the genomic and molecular drivers of disease
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would allow for better care,” she says, “and the rest of the world is beginning to adopt that belief.” Arizona has benefitted from medical tourism— people coming here from all over the world for medical treatment—because the clinical community here has a better understanding and better access to precision medicine capabilities than most other communities do. There are more than just individuals coming here. Teleost Biopharmaceutical is in the process of moving its headquarters to Tucson from Boulder, Colo. The company works with The University of Arizona to use an invention it developed to create products that help protect against and treat skin maladies such as melanoma by enabling people to produce melanin as a prevention mechanism. Additionally, commercialization activities arising from laboratory discoveries translate to new job creation and economic development, Burleson says. “As a non-profit organization, TGen is organized for the betterment of human health, so everything we do is with that in mind. Once something proves to be useful toward patient care in our research, we actively seek to ensure access to anyone who can benefit from it.” With the tremendous changes in health care, medical students are learning cutting-edge medicine and bringing those skills directly into the hospital, Bernas says. An example is medical students in Phoenix are learning to use programs like Eviti to help determine the best treatments for patients. Those kinds of programs can be put in place in hospitals such as Banner to determine the best evidence-based treatments for patients. “Our goal is to maintain good health through earlier diagnosis and smarter, targeted treatments,” Burleson says. “Everyone will benefit from that.” Contributing to this story was information from the Arizona Commerce Authority’s report “Arizona’s Bioscience and Health Care Industry (June 2015).”